From diagnosis to cure: retaining weaker students in Chemistry

Regan, Áine and Hayes, Sarah (2011) From diagnosis to cure: retaining weaker students in Chemistry. [Conference Proceedings]


The increasing percentage of Irish students entering third level education means that many science students do not have an adequate foundation in science. This study is a follow up of work done by Childs and Hayes (2009) on the development of an intervention programme for weak chemistry students.Due to the success of this pilot programme run for one semester of second year in 2008-09, an expanded study has been implemented in 2009-10, using a similar approach. The programme was developed for the same two groups of students as well as a third group, all of which have been previously identified as weak in chemistry. A pre- and post- diagnostic test of chemical concepts and misconceptions was designed and administered. The tests also included an instrument measuring student attitudes and confidence towards science. The pre- diagnostic concept tests were used to design the content of the interventionprogramme to meet the students’ specific needs. The students were taken in small class groups, rather than large lecture groups.This new study involves a longer intervention programme running over two semesters and starting in the second semester of first year. The programme involves a blended learning approach, including a combination of face-to-face teaching and learning, as well as online resources and regular formative assessment. The next phase will involve use of an interactive classroom response system and development of student workbooks.By using a variety of research-based pedagogical techniques it is hoped that these students will be better equipped with the basic chemical understanding that they need for their undergraduate programmes of study, resulting in greater retention.Initial results from the first semester’s intervention show a positive trend in both conceptual understanding and confidence levels in chemistry. It is hoped that the second semester’s tutorials will consolidate and increase these gains.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 4th Annual Conference (Cork) 2010 Flexible Learning Conference Proceedings_sm.pdf]
NAIRTL 4th Annual Conference (Cork) 2010 Flexible Learning Conference Proceedings_sm.pdf

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